In this article, I argue for placing the study of translators and translation processes more squarely at the center of ethnohistoric research. I focus on two texts well known to scholars: a seventeenth-century text written in Chontal Maya and its contemporary translation into Spanish. I discuss how translation practices contributed to the creation of the Chontal text and then analyze the systematic discrepancies between it and the contemporary Spanish translation. I show that even where the translation closely follows the original, the message is radically altered. This case speaks to issues commonly found in colonial encounters, while inviting deeper engagement with translation as a special site where colonial relations are constructed.

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